Hasegawa 1/72 F4F-4 Wildcat
|KIT:||Hasegawa 1/72 F4F-4 Wildcat|
|KIT #:||51324 (AP24)|
|PRICE:||$14.05 from www.greatmodels.com|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The stubby little Grumman Wildcat is the epitome of the US Navy's fighter force in the first year of the Pacific War. An aircraft that was built to withstand the rigors of carrier operations, yet have enough firepower to handle enemy aircraft, the Wildcat was the initial loser in a competition to build the Navy's first monoplane, retractable landing gear fighter aircraft. The winner was the less than sterling Brewster F2A Buffalo. As mediocre an aircraft as was the Buffalo, it did provide the needed operational experience with the type. Though it was a disaster against the Japanese with both US and Commonwealth forces, the Finns used the type with much success against the Soviets in 1940 and later.
The initial production F4F-3 Wildcat had fixed wings and four machine guns. This was later replaced by the folding wing F4F-4 with six machine guns. The folding wings allowed more aircraft to be carried on ships, but added weight that affected the performance. Most pilots did not like the additional two guns as it not only meant more weight, but fewer rounds per gun and so a shorter firing time.
Regardless, the Wildcat soldiered on with smaller carriers once replaced by the Hellcat and was in production until late in the war. The type rapidly disappeared once the war was concluded.
This is not at all a new kit with this boxing being dated 1994. I and many of you have built this little beauty and it fits well. The engraved panel lines are all one could ask for and this version has options for a pair of under wing fuel tanks that were sometimes carried by this aircraft.
The kit provides a nice, if rather basic cockpit that includes a seat, stick and an instrument panel on which one puts a decal. This is probably the weakest area of the kit. The floor is solid, which is non-prototypical as the Wildcat had windows in the lower belly through which the pilot could look.
The wheel well is also somewhat devoid of detail. On a real Wildcat, one could see the engine accessory compartment and the chain drive for the landing gear operating system. None of that is present in the kit, though aftermarket will take care of this and the cockpit situation. The canopy is a single piece so must be cut to display any cockpit detailing you do.
The rest of the kit is well done and despite the number of kits produced from these molds, this kit is still crisply done without a lot of problems with ejector pin marks or sink areas.
Instructions are well done with the usual Gunze paint references. Markings are provided for two aircraft. Both are painted in the Blue-Grey over Light Grey scheme. The box art plane is from VF-9 operating during Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. The other is from VF-6 as operating from the USS Enterprise in early 1941 as it has the red and white rudder stripes and red centers to the insignia. Decals are nicely done with separate red dots. The whites and yellows are a bit transparent so I'd suggest more opaque aftermarket insignia, especially if you do the Operation Torch plane.
This is a very nice model and there are all sorts of aftermarket bits out there to allow you to do other variants of the Wildcat. The True Details cockpit set also includes a new wheel well and is highly recommended for anyone doing this kit who wants greater detail in those areas.
If you want to see how their 'yellow wings' boxing turned out, visit this link.
You can get this and other fine kits and accessories at GreatModels
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